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The Place of Court Eunuchs in the Neo-Assyrian and Achaemenid Empires: a Comparative Analysis.

Grant number: 22/07801-8
Support Opportunities:Scholarships in Brazil - Post-Doctoral
Effective date (Start): December 01, 2022
Field of knowledge:Humanities - History - Ancient and Medieval History
Principal Investigator:Marcelo Aparecido Rede
Grantee:Matheus Treuk Medeiros de Araujo
Host Institution: Faculdade de Filosofia, Letras e Ciências Humanas (FFLCH). Universidade de São Paulo (USP). São Paulo , SP, Brazil
Associated scholarship(s):23/01822-6 - Court eunuchs in the Neo-Assyrian and Achaemenid monumental reliefs: between Assurnasirpal II (883-859 BCE) and Darius I (522-486 BCE), BE.EP.PD


the aim of the present research is to analyze comparatively the place of Court eunuchs in the Neo-Assyrian and Achaemenid Empires, through the examination of the (supposed) figures of eunuchs in the reliefs of the 'palace' of Darius I (522-486 BCE) in Persepolis (ROOT, 1979, p.78-80; KUHRT, 2007, p. 592; YAMAUCHI, 1996, p. 263) and Apadana (KUHRT, op. cit., p. 536; SCHMIDT, 1953, pl. 121-123; 148-149), and from some reliefs of Ashurbanipal (668-631 BCE), specially the Northern Palace in Nineveh (BARNETT, 1976; KERTAI, 2015, p. 167 et seq.), as well as their mention in the Royal Inscriptions of Ashurbanipal (RINAP 5), or (its absence) in the Persian corpus (SCHMITT, 2009) - in this latter case, supplemented by the critical reading of early classical sources (Herodotus, Xenophon and Ctesias). The bewilderment provoked by the institution of eunuchs in the Western audiences was prejudicial to its study, on the one hand fostering an Orientalist discourse that emphasized the political agency of "effeminate" men (Hall, 1989, p. 157); and, on the other hand, keeping away scholars, that tended to downplay the role of eunuchs in the politics of ancient eastern empires (TOUGHER, 2008, p. 14). Our analysis tries to overcome such prejudices and to restore eunuchs as (likely) central pieces of the Assyrian and Persian Empires. Moreover, we suggest that eunuch's bodies and figures should be understood as mediator matters that enable the aggregation towards the imperial authority (LATOUR, 2012; 127; KHATCHADOURIAN, 2016). Finally, the comparative analysis aims at highlighting the link between Achaemenid Persia and its Neo-Assyrian predecessors, and the incorporation of this institution according to the practical needs of each empire.

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(References retrieved automatically from Web of Science and SciELO through information on FAPESP grants and their corresponding numbers as mentioned in the publications by the authors)
MATHEUS TREUK MEDEIROS DE ARAUJO. Achaemenid court eunuchs in their Near Eastern context: images in the longue durée. An. mus. paul., v. 31, . (23/01822-6, 22/07801-8)

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